Making Choices for Our Children

When I was 15 or 16 years old, my mom talked to me about moving from the small town that we lived in at the time (Humboldt, Saskatchewan) to a larger city (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), as my parents were looking at some business opportunities.  Being the stubborn teenager I was at the time and being fully embedded into my separate sports teams and having a good circle of friends, I adamantly refused to move and threatened to live on my own if they wanted to leave.  Moving to the city would be the worst thing they could have ever done to me at the time of my life, or so I thought in my mind.

I often think back to that conversation and how I convinced my parents to not move to Saskatoon.  As someone who was really into sports, would more exposure in better programs have created an opportunity for me to play basketball at the post-secondary level?  Would I have met new friends and formed a larger circle, while keeping my close friends that I still have today?  Everything happens for a reason, but every decision made, or not made, has an outcome.

The reason I am bringing this up is that in a recent workshop, I talked about how I am very thoughtful of what I share of my daughter online and that we do not want to embarrass her in the future.  But at some point, I want to talk with her when she has a better understanding of social media and talk about what pictures she is comfortable with being shared, and which ones she is not.  We are posting pictures of her online to not only share with family who are not able to see my daughter on a regular basis, but to also help start her off with a positive digital footprint.  I was challenged that as she grows older, will the pictures I deem now to be appropriate for sharing, become ones she later resents?  Is it fair that she is having pictures of her posted right now without her consent?  In a world where getting googled is now becoming the norm, we want her to take advantage of that, not lose opportunities.  It is complicated, but as a dad, I am doing the best I can with what I know.

As I thought about this, it dawned on me how sharing images on social media is a newish phenomenon, but parents have been making decisions for their children without their input for years.  I don’t remember my parents talking to me about which elementary school I would see as the best fit for my future goals when I was making those decisions at five years old.

Parenting is complicated.  We make choices for our children, not because we want to punish them, but we want to put them in the best situation moving forward. My daughter hates eating, but then we let her watch Peppa Pig, and then she started eating.  We are cognizant of how addicted she is to this show, so do we decide to let her watch it so she will eat, or disallow it while she doesn’t eat?

I often wish my mom would have forced me to stick with piano lessons or send me to Greek school to learn the language.  I fought back, and some decisions my parents held to, and some they had more flexibility.  But all of the decisions were made with the knowledge they had and with the best interest of my present and future.

My belief as a parent and an educator is to focus more on what children can do, as opposed what they can’t. I will do my best to emulate this quote:

Source: George Couros